The Compass - eNews from Baltimore Planning

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A monthly eNewsletter from the Baltimore City Department of Planning

December, 2014

A Message from the Director…

A growing, thriving city is built on the foundations of a strong and growing economy.  With the recent release of the DRAFT Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), Baltimore is seizing the momentum of a growing national and state economy, and charting a course toward a brighter future for all of us.

The CEDS is an honest look at where we are, and where we are going economically.  It was developed over the past year by the Baltimore Development Corporation, with significant involvement from the Department of Planning.

As I have said so often in past editions of the Compass, every citizen and property owner shares a stake in the City's future, so I would encourage each of you to review the draft plan, and share your thoughts and comments via the BDC CEDS website before the December 19th deadline for comments. 

I'm proud of the contribution the Planning Department made in the preparation of this plan, and look forward to working with BDC to help implement the plan's recommendations.

Together we can grow a better Baltimore.

Thomas J. Stosur, Director

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New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in Baltimore

Registration is now open for this great conference that will be held in Baltimore.

The 14th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference is coming to Baltimore and registration is now open.  The conference will be held  January 29-31, 2015.   Register today at  Early bird registration extends through December 15th, so hurry for a reduced rate.

The conference will draw a national audience of local elected officials and city and county staff; state and federal agency leaders; professionals in planning, transportation, public health, landscape architecture, architecture, public works, parks and recreation, and crime prevention; realtors, developers, builders and bankers; advocates and community organizers; labor representatives; educators; environmentalists; and all others committed to building safer, healthier and more livable communities.

The program will span three full days, with optional pre-conference events on Wednesday, January 28 and post-conference events on Sunday February 1.

The main program  includes a dynamic mix of plenaries, breakouts, workshops, focused training sessions, peer-to-peer learning, and coordinated networking activities. It will also feature exciting tours of model local projects in and around the greater Baltimore region.


Opportunity Collaborative releases housing report: "Strong Communities, Strong Region"

The Opportunity Collaborative, a regional initiative managed by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, and funded through a Sustainable Communities grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), released its regional housing plan "Strong Communities Strong Region" last week. 

The plan makes recommendations for achieving the crucial regional goal of creating healthy communities where more residents are able to contribute positively to the regional economy. The plan also highlights the challenges facing 70,000 Baltimore-area families paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent who need affordable and accessible homes.

The evolution of the Regional Housing Plan, which started in 2012, was guided by the Opportunity Collaborative Housing Committee, a diverse set of advisors made up of local and state representatives, housing development organizations, and housing advocates.  The full study can be found at the Opportunity Collaborative website.

The Planning Department served on the Steering Committee and participated throughout the process of developing the plan. We would like to join the Opportunity Collaborative in thanking the region's local and state agencies, non-profit organizations and consultants who contributed to this report.  We look forward to seeing its recommendations lead to a stronger, growing and more sustainable regional economy.

New Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Offers a Blueprint for a Stronger Economy & Growing City

On November, 19th, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined BDC President Bill Cole in the release of a new economic development strategy for Baltimore, titled "Seizing the Momentum, Building a Brighter Future."  This comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) will build on the mayor's vision of growing Baltimore's population by supporting job growth, expanding business opportunities, encouraging entrepreneurship, and fostering economic inclusion.  The final plan will also help guide the City's future economic development efforts and the work of BDC .

Photo of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

"Right now, Baltimore's Economy is growing, and I plan to keep it that way...This (plan) will help us write the next chapter of success in Baltimore's rich history.  By utilizing this comprehensive, resuls driven strategy, I am certain that Baltimore will continue to attract and retain residents and businesses, expand job opportunities, and invest in our neighborhoods."

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

The new CEDS takes a balanced look at Baltimore's economic assets and potential factors that impede Baltimore's economic growth, while offering a series of strategic recommendations for growing Baltimore's economy over the next five years.  The plan's recommendations focus around eight major approaches to creating a stronger economic future, and tap into Baltimore's full potential.  The plans key recommendations are:

Image of CEDS Document Cover
  • Focusing on business retention and attraction,
  • Improving resources for small business and entrepreneurs,
  • Fostering economic inclusion,
  • Expanding support for mid-sized companies,
  • Recruiting nationally and internationally,
  • Focusing on key industry clusters,
  • Using investments and real estate development to support economic development goals, and
  • Positioning Baltimore regionally and nationally as a premier place to do business and invest.

According to the report, Baltimore’s economic future rests with the success fo six industry clusters that take advantage of the City’s assets and emerging local and regional trends.  The City will therefore focus its economic development efforts on these six clusters to both retain and grow existing businesses, while attracting others to Baltimore.  Each of these is described briefly below.

Financial and Professional Services

This sector is comprised of banks, financial investment and services firms, law firms, and other business services such as marketing, accounting, lobbying, architecture and engineering.  This sector currently includes 2,400 businesses that employ over 32,000 people in Baltimore, with a total payroll of approximately $3.5 billion, average annual wages of $108,000, and total revenue of $31 billion.

Stock photo of two scientists working in a lab

Health and Bioscience Technology

This sector includes Baltimore's world-class medical and research institutions, and related companies.  Baltimore is blessed with institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and the University of Maryland Medical Center, who collectively employ tens of thousands of people and attract more than $2.4 billion in research and development funding annually.  The Baltimore economy will benefit as these institutions work with private sector companies to capitalize commercially on their research and development.  This sector currently includes 1,100 businesses in Baltimore who employ over 66,000 people, with a total payroll of $3.8 billion, average annual wages of $57,000, and total current revenues of approximately $14 billion.

Arts, Culture and Tourism

Baltimore has enormous assets, and potential, when it comes to arts, culture and tourism.  In addition to bringing economic vitality, the city's thriving arts and cultural scene is bringing life to struggling neighborhoods and adding to the quality of life for everyone in the region.  This sector currently represents over 3,000 businesses that employ over 25,000 people, with a total payroll of $657 million, average annual wages of $25,800, and current revenue of approximately $4.6 billion.

View of the Crowds at Sailabration 2014

Information and Creative Services

This sector includes media, telecommunications, information technology, software, data storage, creative services and cyber security, has grown significantly in recent years, and is poised for continued growth in the future.  It represents over 830 businesses in the City who employ 5,600 people, with a total payroll of $433 million, average annual wages of $73,000, and total revenue of approximately $7 billion.


Historically logistics and freight services that support the Port of Baltimore have played a pivotal role in the City's economy.  The future for this industry continues to look bright, with over 250 private-sector businesses who employ 7,500 people, with a total payroll of $498 million, average annual wages of $66,900 and total current revenues of $2.2 billion.

Advanced Manufacturing

Advanced manufacturing uses innovative technologies to make better products and improve production methods.  This includes firms working in clean technology, defense, laboratory equipment, light manufacturing and assembly.  This sector is important because it creates jobs that pay living wages for a full range of skilled, semi-skilled and highly skilled workers.  Manufacturing is seeing a resurgence nationally, and in Baltimore advanced manufacturing is represented by 125 companies who employ over 3,200 people, with a total payroll of $220 million, average annual wages of $68,800, and total revenues of approximately $9.4 billion.

Stock photo of advanced manufacturing machine and worker
Photo of William Cole, BDC President

"The report confirms some of what we already know about small business, but also points to new and exciting data on manufacturing and technology related industries.  Baltimore is growing and a number of diverse business sectors are driving that growth.  With the strategies contained in this report, BDC will focus on ways to sustain that expansion, while developing creative ways to support the Mayor's vision of growing small businesses, retaining existing businesses, and becoming an even more attractive place for business investment and job creation."

BDC President, William Cole

The Department of Planning provided important staff support and technical assistance in the creation of the economic development strategy, that will be implemented by BDC.  The study was also informed by research and findings from Angelou Economics.

The plan is currently available for public comment here and from the BDC website, through December 19, 2014.  To view the complete report and provide comments, please visit  We welcome and encourage you to review and provide feedback on this plan.

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